Partizan 0-0 Spurs
Report from Partizan Stadium
18 September 2014|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Europa League Group C campaign started with a point in Belgrade with a hard-fought goalless draw against Partizan.
Chances did not come thick and fast at either end and a draw was probably a fair reflection of the contest, played in a noisy and occasionally hostile atmosphere at the Stadion FK Partizan.
Hugo Lloris captained a much changed side from the weekend at Sunderland, with Benji Stambouli making a first start and Federico Fazio his debut. There were also returns to the side for Jan Vertonghen, Kyle Naughton, Ben Davies, Andros Townsend, Aaron Lennon, Nabil Bentaleb and Paulinho. Harry Kane took over from Emmanuel Adebayor up front.
It was Kane who rattled the underside of the bar in the opening moments while the Partizan crowd were still preoccupied with their pre-match rituals that carried on into the game.
It was a boisterous yet almost carnival atmosphere behind the goal defended in the first half by Partizan. The home side edged into the game and engineered a few promising moves forward without troubling Lloris, but it was a Bentaleb through ball for Lennon that caused as much alarm as the regular bangers going off around the ground. The speedy winger gave chase but was just beaten to the ball by goalkeeper Milan Lukac.
Kane flashed a shot over the bar on 28 minutes in what was a first effort on goal for a little while as the teams appeared to have the measure of each other going forward. Clear cut chances were at an absolute premium.
Partizan had a big chance on the break just before half-time when Danilo Pantic burst clear but Lloris was equal to the task of fielding a weak finish when the stadium was ready to erupt.
Lloris parried away a dangerous set piece in the opening minutes of the second half as the home team sought to make an early impression shooting towards their most vocal and lively support.
Vertonghen launched into a perfectly timed tackle to deny Danko Lazovic in the next move of the game, executing his challenge just as a shot was about to be dispatched.
Just before the hour Erik Lamela took over from Townsend, with Roberto Soldado replacing Paulinho.
Lloris then made a brilliant save to divert a cross-shot, while at the other end a superb Lamela ball sent Soldado scampering out wide and his cross just missed the run of Kane. A Stambouli cross then just proved too deep for Soldado at the back post.
Lamela offered the team a little spark and he looked the most likely to unlock the game. At the other end, new boy Fazio was an impressive presence and combined well with Vertonghen.
Etienne Capoue was next to make an entrance on 71 minutes, taking over from Stambouli, but clear-cut chances remained at a premium.
Sasa Ilic headed over from 16 yards, Pantic blasted over and at the other end, Kane's decent strike from a free-kick clipped off the defensive wall.
It proved to be the last real attacking action of the game, save for a Pantic cross that was headed away by Vertonghen, as we defended solidly throughout three minutes of additional time to keep our clean sheet intact.
Mauricio Pochettino said
“It was a tough game,” said Mauricio. “We talked yesterday about this game and that it would be difficult and in the end, a draw is a fair result.
“We competed, kept a clean sheet but we wanted the three points.
“It’s important not to lose these games, of course. It was difficult but we need to look forward and look at the positives, like Fazio and Stambouli making their first starts for us. They did very well.
“Now we need to look forward and prepare for West Brom on Sunday.”
Spurs: Lloris; Naughton, Fazio, Vertonghen, Davies; Bentaleb, Stambouli (Capoue, 72); Lennon, Paulinho (Soldado, 59), Townsend (Lamela, 59); Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Chiriches, Dier, Eriksen.
Partizan: Lukac, Volkov (Petrovic, 54), Vulicevic, Stankovic, Cirkovic (Markovic, 68), B Ilic, Grbic (Luka, 85), Drincic, S Ilic, Pantic, Lazovic. Substitutes (not used): Kljajic, Ninkovic, A Zivkovic, Fofana.
Yellow cards: Partizan - B Ilic, Luka. Spurs - Townsend, Davies.
Referee: Mr A Yefet (Israel).